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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

To Fold or To Slide - You Decide

Over the last two decades, bifold doors have been all the rage - Thanks in no small part to property design programmes that love the idea of, " Letting the outside in and the inside out."

There is no doubt that the ability to open up a complete door to have an uninterrupted view of the garden is a lovely idea, and for some projects, remains the most practical and aesthetically pleasing option.

However, over the last twelve months, we have seen a shift in customer's preferences to sliding doors. Let's look into why this might be.

As mentioned above, the principal benefit of bifold doors is that they offer the facility to create an unrestricted view into the garden when fully open. All of the sashes can be opened and stored to either one side or both sides of the opening. This is a great feature, however due to the number of frames that are required to create this facility, there is a price to pay, and that cost is light when the bifold is closed.

Now for the maths!

A 5m wide x 2.1m high, 5-sash bifolding door will provide approximately 8.19 sqm of visible glass. Whereas a 5m x 2.1m high 3-sash sliding door will provide 8.92 sqm. A difference of approximately 0.73 sqm. This is due to the better glass to frame ration of the sliding door to that of the bifold. Or to put it another way, with a sliding door you get more glass and less frame.

Now for some, forgoing that additional light may be a price worth paying to have the ability of opening up the door completely, (in the example above, the 3-sash sliding door can only create a maximum opening of approximately two-thirds), however the question worth asking yourself is, "How often will I be able to fully open the bifold door to achieve this benefit?".

Those living in the UK will be more than aware that our weather can be 'variable' to say the least. And throughout the year, the number of days when a bifold door can be fully opened are going to be limited. The remainder of the time the door is probably going to be closed, or at least partially closed. And this is where sliding doors have the edge over bifolds.

With only two vertical sash profiles interrupting the view with a 3-sash sliding door, compared to the four with a 5-sash bifold, the sliding door certainly has an advantage over the bifold when in the closed position. An issue accentuated by the fact that the vertical sash profiles of the sliding door are considerably narrower than that of the bifold. Put simply, when in the closed position, you achieve more light into your home than with a bifold.

Furthermore, it is also worth considering the fact that, with bifold doors in the open position, the sashes protrude (approximately the width of the sashes) out from the elevation of the property that they have been install. Now for some, that may not be an issue, however, if they open onto, for example, a narrow patio or decking area, then that could be a practical space issue. Because the sashes of a sliding door slide either behind or in front of each other, this is not an issue.

So when making the decision between bifold and sliding doors, consider what is your priority, when and how often you are going to benefit from that priority and the practical implications of both.

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